Every firstborn creature must be the Lord's; but since the donkey was unclean, it could not be presented in sacrifice. What then? Should it be allowed to go free from the universal law? By no means. God allows for no exceptions. The donkey is His due, but He will not accept it; He will not void the claim, but yet He cannot be pleased with the victim. As a result, no way of escape remained but redemption—the creature must be saved by the substitution of a lamb in its place; or if not redeemed, it must die.
My soul, here is a lesson for you. That unclean animal is you. You are justly the property of the Lord who made you and preserves you, but you are so sinful that God will not, cannot, accept you; and it has come to this—the Lamb of God must stand in your place or you must die eternally. Let all the world know of your gratitude to that spotless Lamb who has already bled for you and so redeemed you from the fatal curse of the law. Sometimes it must have been a question for the Israelite which should die: the donkey or the lamb. Surely a good man would pause to estimate and compare.
Without question there was no comparison between the value of the soul of man and the life of the Lord Jesus, and yet the Lamb dies, and man the donkey is spared. My soul, adore the boundless love of God to you and others of the human race. Worms are purchased with the blood of the Son of the Highest! Dust and ashes are redeemed with a price far above silver and gold! What a doom was mine if plentiful redemption had not been found! The breaking of the neck of the donkey was but a momentary penalty, but who will measure the wrath to come to which no limit can be imagined? Inestimably dear is the glorious Lamb who has redeemed us from such a doom.
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.